excerpt – Mysteries of Godliness
In Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith continued to expand Mormon salvation concepts, concepts which came to be intertwined with rituals later performed in temples. He defined the principle of “mak[ing your] calling and election sure” in a 27 June 1839 sermon. This was to be accomplished, after a lifetime of service and devotion, by being “sealed up” to exaltation while yet living.1 This concept was based on 2 Peter 1:10-11: “Wherefore . . . brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (see also v. 19 and Eph. 1:13-14).
This sermon was additionally important because Smith not only tied calling and election to sealing theology but also to the “second comforter” mentioned in John 14:26. According to Smith the second comforter was a personal manifestation of Jesus Christ. These ideas were also tied to the concept of personal revelation and the fact that the twelve apostles and all Mormons could and should follow Smith’s steps and “become perfect in Jesus Christ.” There was no reference to the temple in this sermon, nor were there functioning temples at this time.
In January 1841, well over two years after Mormons abandoned Kirtland, Joseph Smith announced another revelation. In it the Lord asked, “How shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name?” (D&C 124:37) The Saints were instructed to build another temple “that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times” (vv. 40-41). Anointed Saints were advised that their Kirtland ordinances were forerunners to ordinances which would be revealed in a Nauvoo temple.
As in Kirtland, Smith elected to administer new rituals, an expanded “endowment,” to selected leaders before the temple was finished. In 1842 the new endowment was performed only for men, but in 1843 wives were included. The pre-temple endowed were sometimes referred to as “Holy Order,” the “Quorum,” the “Holy Order of the Holy Priesthood,” or the “Quorum of the Anointed.”2 Preliminary initiations proved to be providential, since Smith was killed before the temple’s dedication.
On Wednesday, 4 May 1842, after two days of preparation in the upper story of his Nauvoo store the prophet gathered together nine men. In a significant departure from the simple washings and anointings received in Kirtland, these men were introduced to new theological instructions and ritual. According to the account recorded in the “The Book of the Law of the Lord,” Smith spent the day “In council in the Presidents & General offices with Judge [James] Adams. Hyram Smith Newell K. Whitney. William Marks, Wm Law. George Miller. Brigham Young. Heber C. Kimball & Willard Richards. [blank] & giving certain instructions concerning the priesthood. [blank] &c on the Aronic Priesthood to the first [blank] continuing through the day.”3 This was subsequently expanded to read in the History of the Church that Smith
instruct[ed] them in the principles and order of the Priesthood, attending to washings, anointings, endowments and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so on to the highest order of the Melchisedek Priesthood, setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days, and all those plans and principles by which any one is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the First Born, and come up and abide in the presence of the Eloheim in the eternal worlds. In this council was instituted the ancient order of things for the first time in these last days….therefore let the Saints…[know] assuredly that all these things referred to in this council are always governed by the principle of revelation.4
Joseph and Hyrum Smith received their endowments the next day.
One of the earliest accounts came from apostate John C. Bennett, who described the Holy Order in his 1842 exposé The History of the Saints. Although much of his description is obviously contrived, several specific comments on the ceremony parallel other descriptions published later in the nineteenth century. His account of the oaths, for examples, includes promises of dedication to the Kingdom of God on earth, obedience, chastity, secrecy, a type of vengeance oath, and a penalty. Perhaps the most significant part of Bennett’s description is the language borrowed from Psalms 133:1-3 to describe the anointing: “When the oath has been administered, the candidate is clothed with the robe of the order, and the precious ointment, or consecrated oil, poured upon his head, till it runs down upon his beard and the skirts of his garment.”5 Bennett’s book also contains the earliest reference, in a letter from George W. Robinson, about the garments which participants wore: “After they are initiated into the lodge, they have oil poured on them, and then a mark or hole cut in the breast of their shirts, which shirts must not be worn any more, but laid up to keep the Destroying Angel from them and their families, and they should never die.”6
Years later others more directly involved recalled the events of early May 1842. In 1884 Lucius N. Scovil remembered helping Smith prepare the room:
I can testify that on the 3rd day of May, 1842, Joseph Smith the Prophet called upon five or six, viz: Shadrack [sic] Roundy, Noah Rogers, Dimick B. Huntington, Daniel Cairns [sic] and myself (I am not certain but that Hosea Stout was there also) to meet with him (the Prophet) in his business office (the upper part of his brick store). He told us that the object he had was for us to go to work and fit up that room preparatory to giving endowments to a few Elders that he might give unto them all the keys of power pertaining to the Aronic [sic] and Melchisedec [sic] Priesthoods.
We therefore went to work making the necessary preparations, and everything was arranged representing the interior of a temple as much as the circumstances would permit, he being with us dictating everything. He gave us many items that were very interesting to us, which sank with deep weight upon my mind, especially after the temple was finished at Nauvoo, and I had received the ordinances in which I was among the first, as I had been called upon to work in the Temple as one of the hands during the winter. Some weeks previous to the dedication he told us that we should have the privilege of receiving the whole of the ordinances in due time. The history of Joseph Smith speaks for itself. But I can and do testify that I know of a surety that room was fitted up by his order which we finished in the forenoon of the said 4th of May, 1842. And he gave us to understand that he intended to have everything done by him that was in his power while he remained with us. He said his work was nearly done and he should roll the burden of the kingdom upon the shoulders of the Twelve. I am the only one living that I know of, who helped to fit up that room, except Hosea Stout, [who] was there.7
Brigham Young reminisced:
When we got our washings and anointings under the hands of the Prophet Joseph at Nauvoo, we had only one room to work in with the exception of a little side room or office where we were washed and anointed, and had our garments placed upon us and received our New Name. After he had performed these ceremonies, he gave the Key Words[,] signs, tokens and penalties. Then after this we went into the large room over the store in Nauvoo. Joseph divided upon the room the best that he could, hung up the veil, marked it, gave us our instructions as we passed along from department to another, giving us signs, tokens, penalties with the key words pertaining to those signs. After we had got through, Brother Joseph turned to me [Pres B. Young] and said, “Brother Brigham this is not arranged right but we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed . . .”8
Under a journal entry entitled “Strange Events, June 1842,” Heber C. Kimball recorded his part in the ritual: “I was aniciated [initiated] into the ancient order was washed and annointed and Sealled and ordained a Preast, and so forth in company with nine others.”9 He also wrote a letter to Parley P. Pratt describing the event a little over a month later:
Brother Joseph feels as well as I Ever see him. one reason is he has got a Small company that he feels safe in thare hands. and that is not all he can open his bosom to and feel him Self safe I wish you was here so as to feel and hear fore your Self. we have recieved some pressious things through the Prophet on the preasthood that could caus your Soul to rejoice I can not give them to you on paper fore they are not to be riten. So you must come and get them fore your Self. —We have organised a Lodge here of Masons since we obtained a Charter. that was in March since that thare has near two hundred been made masons Br Joseph and Sidny was the first that was Recieved in to the Lodg. all of the twelve have become members Except Orson P. he Hangs back. he will wake up soon, thare is a similarity of preast Hood in masonary. Bro Joseph Ses Masonary was taken from preasthood but has become degen[e]rated. but menny things are perfect. we have a prosession on the 24th of June. which is cold [called] by Masons St Johns day in this country. I think [this crossed through] I think it will result in good. the Lord is with us and we are prosperd.10
Kimball here posits matter-of-factly a connection with Freemasonry, which Smith joined about the same time he introduced the new endowment. Certainly the Nauvoo endowment ritual was a significant expansion from the washings and anointings of Kirtland. The History of the Church account implies a divine origin for the endowment, which it describes as embracing “the principles and order of the Priesthood, . . . and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so on to the highest order of the Melchisedek Priesthood, . . . [and] the ancient order of things for the first time in these last days.”11 Believing that priesthood had been restored by angels, members may have assumed that ancient knowledge, like ancient authority, had been lost from the earth and was being restored to the prophet through revelation.12 But nowhere did Smith leave a direct statement of how the endowment ceremony came to be.
The History of the Church quotes Smith saying, “All these things referred to in this [endowment] council are always governed by the principle of revelation.”13 This “quotation” is actually a reconstruction14 by Willard Richards composed between 14-18 April 1845, based on the very brief, incomplete entry from the “Book of the Law of the Lord” quote above. On so important and central an ordinance, it is unfortunate there is no revelatory document nor any known contemporary reference to a revelation by either Smith or his associates. With respect to this issue, most of the Doctrine and Covenants came about as a result of particular needs of the church or individuals. Important doctrines developed when outside forces and movements focused Smith’s attention on a problem in a particular way. Thus it seems appropriate to inquire about influences from Smith’s life that may have led to development of the temple ceremony.
A good place to begin such an investigation is the framework of the ceremony which, as Elder James Talmage has indicated in The House of the Lord (1912), retells the plan of salvation—the Creation, Fall, and Atonement. As a culmination of Smith’s theology that human beings are the offspring of God and potential gods, the temple provided a synthesis of Mormon beliefs in the origin and purpose of men and women as well as a sacred ritual that reunited them with God and each other. This instructional material is drawn directly from scripture introduced by Smith in his revision of the Bible, pertinent sections of which are now published in the books of Moses and Abraham.
Latter-day Saints familiar with religions in the ancient Mid-East and classical worlds have pointed out motifs that seem to find echoes in the LDS temple. For example, apocalyptic and pseudepigraphic literature (written between the closing of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament and attributed to important prophets of the past such as Moses, Noah, and Enoch) commonly dealt with the existence of multiple gods, the creation of order out of chaos, the premortal existence of conscious beings, the creation of the earth, the creation of Adam and Eve, light versus darkness (as a symbol of the necessity of exercising free will to choose between opposites), Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven, the fall of Adam and Eve, the influence of angels in the world, the Savior’s mission and atonement, his mission to spirit prison, the resurrection, the millennial kingdom, the crucial role of prophets and patriarchs, and secret covenants and “mysteries” by which earnest seekers could reach the highest heaven.
In addition, mystery cults in the ancient world, particularly Nag Hammadi, Qumran, and Greece, ring with such familiar motifs as preparatory purification through ritual bathing, special instruction in secret knowledge given only to initiates, use of sacred symbolic objects related to secret knowledge, narration or dramatic enactment of a sacred story, and fellowhsip in a secret brotherhood with a promise of immortality hereafter. A number of Latter-day Saints have pointed out the similarities between these ancient rites and Mormon rituals, usually suggesting that ancient ceremonies are vestiges, reshaped and distorted by time and cultural change, of an original ceremony first explained to Adam and Eve.15
Although this list of resemblances is provocative, ancient rites in which these common themes are embedded were based on cosmological beliefs which had no anticipation of Christian eschatology, much less a resurrection of the dead as now believed by Latter-day Saints. As such these are at odds with the theological structure of the Mormon temple.16 Even though we are accustomed to think of pagan “corruptions” of original truths, it has not proved fruitful to try to reconstruct an ancient Christian temple ceremony from pagan parallels.
It does not appear that Smith had any working knowledge of mystery cultures and apocalyptic/mystery cults from which to have drawn temple ideas. In short ancient sources cannot be considered a direct influence on Smith except as they were revealed to him from a time predating corruption or except as they appear in the ancient scriptures that he brought forth. The influence of the creation accounts in the books of Moses and Abraham on the temple narrative is clear; but the only other scriptural reference directly linking ancient writings with the Mormon temple ceremony is found in Explanatory Note 8 to Facsimile 2 in the book of Abraham.
This facsimile shows a hypocephalus, an object placed by ancient Egyptians under the head of the deceased, the meaning of which is closely linked with Chapter 162 of the Egyptian “Book of the Dead,” where instructions for its construction and use are given. Smith’s explanation for this portion of Facsimile 2 is: “Contains writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.” This illustration was engraved by Reuben Hedlock under Smith’s direction for the book of Abraham’s publication in February through March 1842 issues of the church’s Times and Seasons. (This period just preceded Smith’s initiation into Freemasonry and the subsequent introduction of the Nauvoo endowment ceremony.) A literal translation of this section of the hypocephalus is: “O God of the Sleeping Ones from the time of the Creation. O Mighty God, Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Netherworld and his Great Waters, grant that the souls of the Osiris Sheshonk, may live.”17 It is difficult to see how this literal translation relates to the temple ceremony introduced by Smith in Nauvoo.
It is more reasonable (and I believe productive) to explore the source suggested by contemporary accounts such as the one quoted above in the letter from Heber C. Kimball: Freemasonry. The complex interplay of Masonic tradition on Mormon temple rites probably had its roots during the mid-1820s, given that Smith’s father (apparently) and older brother Hyrum (definitely) had joined the fraternity in 1817 and between 1825 and 1827, respectively. The definitive examination of Mormonism and Freemasonry has yet to be written. The best to date is Michael W. Homer, “‘Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry’: The Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Fall 1994). For a general introduction, see Reed C. Durham, Jr., “Is There No Help For the Widow’s Son?” This was delivered as the presidential address to the Mormon History Association, 20 April 1974. See the version published in Mormon Miscellaneous 1 (Oct. 1975): 11-16. See also Kenneth W. Godfrey, “Joseph Smith and the Masons,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 64 (Spring 1971): 79-90; S. H. Goodwin, Mormonism and Masonry: A Utah Point of View (Salt Lake City: Grand Lodge, F. & A. M. of Utah, 1925); and Additional Studies in Mormonism and Masonry (Salt Lake City: Grand Lodge, F. & A. M. of Utah, 1927). Also Mervin B. Hogan, The Origin and Growth of Utah Masonry and Its Conflict with Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Campus Graphics, 1978); Mormonism and Freemasonry: The Illinois Episode (Salt Lake City: Campus Graphics, 1980); Anthony W. Ivins, The Relationship of “Mormonism” and Freemasonry (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1934); Gavin, Mormonism and Masonry; Allen D. Roberts, “Where Are the All-Seeing Eyes? The Origin, Use and Decline of Early Mormon Symbolism,” Sunstone 4 (May-June 1979): 22-37; John E. Thompson, The Masons, the Mormons and the Morgan Incident (Iowa Research Lodge No. 2 A. & A.M., 1981); and Robin L. Carr, Freemasonry and Nauvoo, 1839-1846 (Bloomington, IL: Masonic Book Club, 1989).18 At this time Masonry’s appeal, especially to young men in the northeastern United States, was at an all time high.19 One reason for this popularity was Masonry’s role as a surrogate religion for many initiates. Teaching morality (separate from an institutional church) was its most important ideal, a tack which set well with those disenchanted with traditional churches. Furthermore, in the context of the influence of the Enlightenment during this period, Masons purported links between science and their mysteries which made their secret ceremonies attractive.20 The lodge provided benefits of fraternal conviviality, charity, and security when traveling. Freemasonry also provided a form of recreation for members.21
The traditional origin of Freemasonry (which “enlightened” Masons view as mythological or legendary) is the construction of Solomon’s temple by Master Mason Hiram Abiff. Actually Freemasonry was a development of the craft guilds during the construction of the great European cathedrals during the tenth to seventeenth centuries.22 After the Middle Ages, lodges in Scotland and Great Britain began to accept honorary members and worked out rudimentary ceremonies to distinguish members of trade organizations. In 1717 four fraternal lodges, perhaps actual masons’ lodges, united as the Grand Lodge of England, considered the beginning of organized Freemasonry or “speculative Masonry.” The order spread quickly to other countries and included such prominent adherents as Mozart, Voltaire, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Some historians believe that Masons staged the Boston Tea Party.
Latter-day Saints may feel that Masonry constitutes a biblical-times source of uncorrupted knowledge from which the temple ceremony could be drawn. However, historians of Freemasonry generally agree that the trigradal system of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, as practiced in Nauvoo, cannot be traced further back than the eighteenth century. According to Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones, two knowledgeable twentieth-century historians, it is “high probable” that the system of Masonry practiced at the organization of the Grand Lodge in London “did not consist of three distinct degrees.” They warn, “It would probably not be safe to fix a date earlier than 1723 or 1725 for the origin” of the trigradal system. “Accepted Masonry underwent gradual changes throughout a period of years stretching from well before 1717 to well after that date. . . . The earliest speculative phase of Freemasonry may be regarded as beginning about 1730. . . . Though some symbolism had doubtless crept into Masonry by that date, it would not appear to have reached its full development for another forty or fifty years.”23
The fundamental ceremonies of modern (American) York Rite and Scottish Rite Masonry occur on three distinct levels: (1) Entered Apprentice, (2) Fellow Craft, and (3) Master Mason. Each level contains instruction in morals and Masonic symbolism, coupled with secret signs, passwords, handshakes, and penalties for revealing secrets to non-Masons. Advanced degrees exist for both orders. Nevertheless, the three initial degrees constitute the principal ceremonies experienced by active Masons.
Hyrum Smith’s exact involvement on these levels is not known. Any early enthusiasm, however, may have been temporarily checked by widespread anti-Mason feelings which pervaded upstate New York during the late 1820s. This wave of public sentiment was precipitated by the announced publication of William Morgan’s exposé of Masonic ceremonies and by his mysterious disappearance and presumed murder in September 1826. A public outcry against Masons who were thought to put themselves above the law followed. For a few years, American Masonic lodges were, for all practical purposes, inactive. Many lodges closed. Renouncements of affiliation were widespread. A number of newspapers dedicated to exposing Masonry were established in New York and other states. The anti-Masonic movement led to the creation of an independent political party where its energies were ultimately diffused. It was disbanded in 1832.24
Some scholars feel that anti-Masonry may be seen in the Book of Mormon and interpret some passages (for example, Alma 37:21-32; Hel. 6:21-22; Ether 8:18-26) as anti-Masonic. These passages condemn secret combinations, secret signs, and secret words in a manner which may be interpreted as reminiscent of anti-Masonic rhetoric prevalent during this period.25
A few references from contemporary newspapers confirm an early anti-Masonic perception of the Book of Mormon. On 15 March 1831, the Geauga Gazette of Painesville, Ohio, stated that “the Mormon Bible is Anti-masonick” and that “every one of its followers . . . are anti-masons.” This newspaper quoted Martin Harris as saying that the Book of Mormon was an “Anti-masonick Bible.” A similar story appeared in The Ohio Star in Ravenna, Ohio, on 24 March 1831. Another Painesville paper, The Telegraph, ran an article on 22 March 1831 challenging the 15 March story and claiming that the Book of Mormon was printed by a “Masonic press” in Palmyra, New York. It further asserted that there was “a very striking resemblance between masonry and mormonism. Both systems pretend to have a very ancient origin, and to possess some wonderful secrets which the world cannot have without submitting to the prescribed ceremonies” (see also 24 Mar. 1831). Interestingly, Mormon converts in northeastern Ohio were identified by the press as being as fanatical as the region’s anti-Masons.26 Notably the first anti- Mormon book, Mormonism Unvailed, referred to ancient Book of Mormon Nephites as “Anti-masons.”27 Despite these Book of Mormon passages and press coverage, no evidence exists to convincingly prove that early converts paid serious attention to anti-Masonry.28
Perhaps more decisively, Freemasonry had little or no discernible influence on the rites practiced in the Kirtland Temple, 1835-36. Reed C. Durham, Jr., has noted, however, that some Masonic influence can be seen in the temple’s architectural patterns.29 One quotation in the History of the Church records Smith in 1835 using Masonic terms to condemn the “abominations” of Protestants and praying that his “well fitted” comments “may be like a nail in a sure place, driven by the master of assemblies.”30 Smith’s familiarity with and positive use of Masonic imagery is paradoxical in light of his anti-secret society rhetoric during the Missouri period.31
A full examination of the complex history of the church’s transition to Nauvoo and its subsequent embrace of Masonry is beyond the scope of this discussion. Smith’s involvement with Masonry is well documented, but the events leading him to consider joining the fraternity and endorsing its practice in Nauvoo are not. His ever-present fear of enemies may have led him to believe that affiliation would give some form of protection to church members. Perhaps he saw an additional level of protection from internal enemies resulting from the secrecy demanded of all initiates.32 It is also possible that amid the translation and publication activities of the book of Abraham in spring 1842, Smith’s preoccupation with ancient mysteries may have triggered an interest in tapping Masonic lore.
The influence of personal friends cannot be ignored. In 1838, for example, Smith stayed briefly in Far West, Missouri, with George and Lucinda Harris, eventually becoming close friends with Lucinda.33 Lucinda had first been married to William Morgan in New York, when he was abducted for threatening to publish Masonic secrets. She became one of Smith’s first plural wives.34 Other prominent Freemasons who converted to Mormonism included Deputy Grand Master of Illinois James Adams, Heber C. Kimball, kept locked up.”35 Newel K. Whitney, George Miller, John C. Bennett, John Smith, and Brigham Young.36
Of these associates, the most influential in accelerating Smith’s interest in Freemasonry was John C. Bennett.37 Bennett has typically been characterized as an opportunistic scoundrel whose brief (eighteen-month) sojourn with the Saints at Nauvoo was unfortunate and embarrassing. Actually, Bennett was a powerful confidante to Smith and a key figure in Nauvoo. His accomplishments included: “Assistant President” of the church, first mayor of Nauvoo, Major General in Nauvoo Legion, and secretary of the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge. He was instrumental in gaining the Illinois legislature’s approval of the Nauvoo Charter, Nauvoo Legion, and the University of Nauvoo.38 Although his own status as a Mason in good standing prior to Nauvoo has been called into question,39 Bennett may well have advised Smith to adopt Freemasonry as a means to end persecution.40 Ebenezer Robinson, editor of the Times and Seasons until February 1842, reminisced: “Heretofore the church had strenuously opposed secret societies such as Freemasons . . . but after Dr. Bennett came into the Church a great change of sentiment seemed to take place.”41
Smith’s official experience in Freemasonry began five months before the first Nauvoo endowment. He petitioned for membership in the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge on 30 December 1841. The favorable results of the lodge’s investigation in his petition were reported on 3 February 1842.42 Smith was initiated as an entered apprentice Mason on 15 March 1842 and received the fellow craft and master degrees the next day. Since the customary waiting period before receiving a new degree is thirty days, Smith’s elevation to the “sublime degree” (Master Mason) without prior participation was unusual.43 During the organization of the Female Relief Society one day later in the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge room, Smith filled his founding address with Masonic allusions: “Let this Presidency serve as a constitution“44; Smith “proposed that the Society go into a close examination of every candidate….that the Society should grow up by degrees….he was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day.”45 Kent L. Walgren, a student of Mormon/Masonry connections, concluded from reading other early Female Relief Society minutes that Smith’s aim in establishing the Society was to “institutionalize secrecy.”46 He cites an entry from the minutes where Emma Smith, probably during the organizational period, read an epistle signed by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and four others: “there may be some among you who are not sufficiently skill’d in Masonry to keep a secret….Let this Epistle be had as a private matter in your Society, and we shall learn whether you are good Masons.”47
Over the next several weeks Smith participated in other lodge meetings, witnessing the Entered Apprentice degree five times, the Fellow Craft degree three times, and the Master Mason degree five times—all prior to his introduction of the extended endowment.48 An important sermon on 1 May 1842 contained references carrying Masonic overtones:
The keys are certain signs and words…which cannot be revealed…till the Temple is completed—The rich can only get them in the Temple….There are signs in heaven, earth, and hell, the Elders must know them all to be endowed with power….The devil knows many signs but does not know the sign of the Son of Man, or Jesus. No one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be in the Holiest of Holies.49
On 4 and 5 May, forty-nine days after his Masonic initiation, Smith introduced the new endowment ceremony to trusted friends in the upper story of his red brick store.50
The clearest evidence of Masonic influence on the Nauvoo temple ceremony is a comparison of texts. Three elements of the Nauvoo endowment and its contemporary Masonic ritual resemble each other so closely that they are sometimes identical. These are the tokens, signs, and penalties. The two accounts which may be most useful for the purposes of comparison are those of Catherine Lewis and William Morgan. Morgan’s 1826 account was an exposé of his local York Rite’s “Craft” degrees (the same rite introduced in Nauvoo, though the wording differed from state to state).51 Catherine Lewis joined the LDS church in 1841 in Boston. After Smith’s death in 1844, she moved to Nauvoo and was among those who received their endowment in the new temple. Lewis received the ordinance at the urging of Heber Kimball and one of his wives. Repulsed by Kimball’s subsequent proposal of plural marriage, she left Nauvoo and published a book in 1848 which includes a description of the temple ceremony.52
NAUVOO ENDOWMENT CEREMONY RITES COMPARED
TO CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHED FREEMASONIC RITES
|Nauvoo Temple Ceremony RitesI will now give you the signs and tokens of the priesthood . . . the first sign or token is to take hold of the right hand, placing the ball of the thumb between the two upper joints of the fore-fingers.The second sign is to place the thumb on the upper joint of the second finger; —these tokens signify you have two names; one of which is a new name.The third sign is called the Patriarchal grip, and has three names; the first, Patriarchal grip; second, the Son; the third, you will receive at the veil….We then held up both hands above the head,and placed our right hand under the left ear, drew it across the throat,the left hand was placed to the right shoulder, then drawn across the breast, and the right hand suddenly thrust down the right side.
We then raised our hands again, and were taught how to pray. This ceremony concluded, we proceeded singly to the veil, (which is a large sheet separating us from the upper part of the hall, having five holes in it—two for the eyes, one for the mouth, and two for the arms,) the person representing the Lord is on the other side of the vail, to take the signs and converse with us. Our Instructor tells us how to answer.
Then the Lord asks for the signs; we give them; our new name is whispered in his ear; he then whispers the third name of the Patriarchal Grip in our ear, viz:—”Marrow in the bones, Strength in the sinews, and virtue in the loins throughout all generations.”
|Freemasonic Rites[The grip of the Entered Apprentice:] The right hands are joined together as in shaking hands and each sticks his thumb nail into the third joint or upper end of the forefinger . . . [After receiving the Boaz, the initiate is given a lambskin or white apron which is donned.][The pass-grip of the Fellow Craft] is given by taking each other by the right hand, as though going to shake hands, and each putting his thumb between the fore and second fingers where they join the hand, and pressing the thumb between the joints.[The pass-grip of the Master Mason] is given by pressing the thumb between the joints of the second and third fingers where they join the hand.[The sign and Due-Guard of the Master Mason] is given by raising both hands and arms to the elbows, perpendicularly, one On each side of the head, the elbows forming a square. The words accompanying this sign, in case of distress, are, “O Lord, My God! Is there no help for the widow’s son?”…The Due Guard is made by holding both hands in front palms down.[The sign and Due-Guard of the Entered Apprentice] is given by holding your two hands transversely across each other, the right hand upwards and one inch from the left…[and] by drawing your right hand across your throat,
[Sign and Due-Guard of the Fellow Craft:] The sign is given by drawing your right hand flat, with the palm of it next to your breast from the left to the right side with some quickness, and dropping it down by your side; the Due-Guard is given by raising the left arm until that part of it between the elbow and that part above it form a square.
The Penal Sign is given by putting the right hand to the left side of the bowels, the hand open, with the thumb next to the belly, and drawing it across the belly, and letting it fall; this is done tolerably quick.
“He (candidate) is raised on what is called the five points of fellowship, which are foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back and mouth to ear. This is done by putting the inside of your right foot to the inside of the right foot of the person to whom you are going to give the word, the inside of your knee to his, laying your right breast against his, your left hands on the back of each other, and your mouths to each other’s right ear (in which position alone you are permitted to give the word), and whisper the word Mahhahbone. The Master’s grip is given by taking hold of each other’s hand as though you were going to shake hands, and sticking the nails of each of your fingers to the joint of the other’s wrist where it unites with the hand….He is also told that Mahhah-bone signifies marrow in the bone.
Other similarities with Masonic rites include the prayer circle which required Masonic initiates to assemble around an altar, place their left arm over the person next to them, join hands, repeat the words of the Most Excellent Master, and give all the signs from the initial ceremonial degrees.53 Historian D. Michael Quinn has pointed out that nineteenth-century American Protestant revivals also had prayer circles in which, “when the invitation was given, there was a general rush, the large ‘prayer ring’ was filled, and for at least two hours prayer ardent went up toe God.”54 Two other Masonic elements with Mormon echoes are initiates’ receiving a new name and donning a white apron as part of the rite.55 An explanatory lecture always follows the conferral of each Masonic degree ceremony, a practice not unlike the Mormon temple endowment’s lecture at the veil.
This pattern of resemblances indicates that Smith drew on Masonic rites in shaping the temple endowment and specifically borrowed tokens, signs, and penalties, as well as possibly the Creation narrative and ritual anointings. Still, the temple ceremony cannot be explained as wholesale borrowing, neither can it be dismissed as completely unrelated. As Mervin Hogan, a Mormon Mason, explained in 1991, “[L]ittle room for doubt can exist in the mind of an informed, objective analyst that the Mormon Temple Endowment and the rituals of ancient Craft Masonry are seeming intimately and definitely involved.”56
An interesting question is the response of Smith’s contemporaries to the temple ceremony, since many were also familiar with Masonry. How did they understand the resemblances? Although modern Latter-day Saints are generally unfamiliar with Masonry, this was not the case in Nauvoo. According to the Manuscript History of Brigham Young, Heber Kimball later said, “We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.”57
Another of Smith’s close friends, Joseph Fielding, wrote in 1844: “Many have joined the Masonic Institution this seems to have been a Stepping Stone or Preparation for something else, the true Origin of Masonry.”58 According to one of Brigham Young’s ex-wives, Young “delight[ed] to speak of it [the endowment] as ‘Celestial Masonry.’”59 Young’s brother Phineas thought that a part of the ceremony referred directly to the “marks of a Master Mason.”60 John D. Lee, in narrating his duties as a worker in the Nauvoo temple after Joseph Smith’s death, used explicitly Masonic words (italicized below) to describe his entrance into the temple:
Tuesday Dec 16th 1845 about 4 oclock in the morning I entered the Poarch in the lower court where I met the Porter who admitted me through the door which led to the foot or nearly so of a great flight of Stairs which by ascending led me to the door of the outer court which I found tyled within by an officer. I having the proper implements of that degree gained admittance through the outer and inner courts which opened and led to the sacred departments….Having entered I found myself alone with the Tyler [guard] that kept the inner courts set about and soon got fires up in the different rooms and setting things in order—for the day—at about 9 oclock in the morning the washing and anointing commenced…61
More than sixty years later Elder Franklin D. Richards explained to his colleagues in the Quorum of Twelve Apostles,
A Masonic Lodge…was established in Nauvoo and Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Willard Richards, John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Orson Hyde, F. D. Richards, and about 1000 others in all became Masons. Joseph, the Prophet, was aware that there were some things about Masonry which had come down from the beginning and he desired to know what they were, hence the lodge. The Masons admitted some keys of knowledge appertaining to Masonry were lost. Joseph enquired of the Lord concerning the matter and He revealed to the Prophet true Masonry, as we have it in our temples.62
The LDS First Presidency went so far in 1911 as to refer publicly to the “Masonic characters [of] the ceremonies of the temple.”63 Apostle Melvin J. Ballard64 and historian E. Cecil McGavin65 were among early twentieth-century Mormons who believed that Masonry’s trigradal degree system of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason dated back to Solomon’s temple or to the time of Adam.
To summarize Mormon participation in Freemasonry during the Nauvoo period, it is useful to note that in 1840 only 147 men in Illinois and 2,072 in the United States were Masons.66 By the time of the exodus to Utah in 1846-47, approximately 1,366 Mormon males in Nauvoo had been initiated into the Masonic order.67 While it is uncertain exactly why Freemasonry was initially embraced, its activities undoubtedly provided fraternal benefits and its ceremonies clearly provided part of the specific wording for the Nauvoo temple endowment, although most nineteenth-century Masonic rituals have no resemblance to early temple ceremonies. It is significant that, following conferral of endowment rites on Nauvoo adults and their subsequent relocation to Utah, Masonry never regained the prominence among Mormons it received in Nauvoo.
Two additional ceremonies were introduced in 1843 about a year following the initial conferral of the new endowment: celestial marriage for time and eternity and the fullness of the priesthood or the second anointing. Celestial marriage was applied to and equated with plural marriage until the late nineteenth century.68 Although in March 1836 and again in May 1842 Smith declared the endowment complete and the fullness of the priesthood restored, by late August 1842 he prayed that “the Lord Almighty…will continue to preserve me…until I have fully accomplished my mission in this life, and so firmly established the dispensation of the fullness of the priesthood in the last days, that all the powers of earth and hell can never prevail against it.”69 Almost a year later on 6 August 1843, Brigham Young confirmed that the fullness of the priesthood had not yet been given: “[I]f any in the Church had the fullness of the Melchisedec Priesthood, [I do] not know it.” Clearly, Smith had discussed this concept with Young, for Young added, “For any person to have the fulness of that pristhood must be a king & a priest….A person may be anointed king & priest before they receive their kingdom &c.” 70
Other facets of Mormon thinking had also matured by the time Brigham Young made that statement. Particularly important was a refinement of the Latter-day Saint view of “eternal life.” Prior to receiving the “three degrees of glory” vision in February 1832 (now D&C 76), Mormons, including Smith, understood eternal life in the same sense as other Protestants—as an undifferentiated heaven as the only alternative to an undifferentiated hell. Even after February 1832 and possibly as late as 1843, Smith apparently still conceived “eternal life” as dwelling in the presence of Elohim (God) forever. It was not until May 1843 that Smith ostensibly taught that the celestial kingdom71 contained gradations, with the highest gradation reserved solely for men and women who entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (see D&C 131:1- 4).72 In July 1843 Smith dictated another revelation (now D&C 132) which defined those achieving “exaltation” in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom as “gods.”73
The importance of this teaching is seen in another sermon given shortly thereafter on 27 August 1843. Significantly, these comments occurred in a discussion of three orders or levels of priesthood: the Levitical or Aaronic order, the patriarchal order of Abraham, and the fullness of the priesthood of Melchizedek which included “kingly powers” of “anointing & sealing—called elected and made sure.”74 Said Smith: “No man can attain to the Joint heirship with Jesus Christ with out being administered to by one having the same power & Authority of Melchisedec.” This authority and power came not from “a Prophet nor apostle nor Patriarch only but of [a] King & Priest [of Jesus Christ].”75
During this same sermon Smith said: “Abrahams [sic] Patriarchal power” was the “greatest yet experienced in this church.”76 His choice of words is particularly revealing, for by this date ten men had received the initiatory washings and anointings, as well as the Aaronic and Melchizedek portions of the endowment of the “Patriarchal Priesthood” on 4 May 1842. Many of these had also received the ordinance of celestial marriage for time and eternity with their wives. Joseph and Emma Hale Smith, for example, were sealed in May 1843, as were James and Harriet Adams, Brigham and Mary Ann Angell Young, Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith, and Willard and Jenetta Richards Richards.77 When Joseph Smith said late in August that the Patriarchal Priesthood was the “greatest yet experienced in this church,” he was well aware that the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood was yet to be conferred through a higher ordinance.
In a sense the institution of this higher ordinance was the logical next step. The previous twelve years of pronouncements, sealings, and anointings “unto eternal life” guaranteed a status that, according to Smith’s 1843 teachings, was subservient to that of the gods. From the perspective of these teachings, even the Nauvoo endowment administered to members of the Holy Order simply provided that the men who received it would live in the celestial kingdom as angels and servants. Until 1843 women had been excluded from these ordinances, possibly because of Smith’s personal reluctance, certainly because of his first wife Emma’s rejection of polygamy, as well as because of John Bennett’s lurid exposé and/or the apostasy and subsequent reconciliation of Orson and Sarah Pratt over polygamy. Doctrine and Covenants 131 and 132 indicated that this exclusion deprived the men (who had received the previous ordinances) of the highest kingdom of glory—godhood. The higher ordinance was necessary to confirm the revealed promises of “kingly powers” (i.e., godhood) received in the endowment’s initiatory ordinances. Godhood was the meaning of this higher ordinance, or second anointing, for the previously revealed promises in Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-26 implicitly referred not to those who had been sealed in celestial marriage but to those who had been sealed and ordained “kings and priests,” “queens and priestesses” to God. Such individuals would necessarily have received a higher anointing: “Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”
This special priesthood ordinance was first administered on 28 September 1843 to Joseph and Emma Smith. The History of the Church gives a discreet account of this event:
At half-past eleven, a.m., a council convened over the store, consisting of myself, my brother Hyrum, Uncle John Smith, Newel K. Whitney, George Miller, Willard Richards, John Taylor, Amasa Lyman, John M. Bernhisel, and Lucien Woodworth; and at seven in the evening we met in the front upper room of the Mansion, with William Law and William Marks. By the common consent and unanimous voice of the council, I was chosen president of the special council.
The president led in prayer that his days might be prolonged until his mission on the earth is accomplished, have dominion over his enemies, all their households be blessed, and all the Church and the world.78
Joseph Smith’s journal, the original source, gives a fuller account: “Beurach Ale [a code name for Joseph Smith] was by common consent, & unanimous voice chosen President of the quorum. & anointed & ord[ained] to the highest and holiest order of the priesthood (& companion).”79 This “companion” was his wife, Emma, to whom he had been sealed for time and eternity four months earlier on 28 May. Wilford Woodruff’s record of this event, found in his 1858 Historian’s Private Journal, was equally explicit: “Then by common consent Joseph Smith the Prophet Received his second Anointing of the Highest & Holiest order.”80
During the next five months this higher priesthood ordinance was conferred on at least twenty men and the wives of sixteen of these men. As the accompanying figure81 shows, fullness of priesthood blessings during Smith’s lifetime were reserved primarily for church leaders. He was concerned about administering to these leaders before the temple was completed, besides emphasizing secrecy and loyalty among those who entered plural marriage, was so that “the Kingdom will be established, and I do not care what shall become of me.” As George Q. Cannon asserted in 1869, “It was by the virtue of this authority, on the death of Joseph Smith, that President Young, as President of the quorum of the Twelve, presided over the Church.”82
*dbi = died before introduced; dnr = did not receive during Joseph Smith’s lifetime; nd = no date available but probably received during Joseph Smith’s lifetime; blank space = nothing known, or received after Joseph Smith’s death.
In an important discourse on priesthood on 10 March 1844 Smith was recorded as saying:
[T]he spirit power & Calling of Elijah is that ye have power to hold the keys of the revelations ordinances, oricles powers & endowments of the fulness of the Melchezedek Priesthood & of the Kingdom of God on the Earth & to receive, obtain & perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God even unto the sealing of the hearts of the fathers unto the Children & the hearts of the Children unto the fathers even those who are in heaven.83
Formally conferring this sealing power of Elijah completed the basic form of the priesthood endowment. As Brigham Young would explain after Smith’s death, “Every man that gets his endowment…[has been] ordained to the Melchisedeck Priesthood, which is the highest order of Priesthood….those who have come in here and have received their washing & anointing will be ordained Kings & Priests, and will then have received the fulness of the Priesthood, all that can be given on earth, for Brother Joseph said he had given us all that could be given to man on the earth.”84
In practice today the second anointing is actually the first of two parts comprising the fullness of the priesthood ceremony.85 Although there have been refinements in the ceremony since Nauvoo, a brief discussion of it may be helpful. First, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles or First Presidency recommends a couple to the president of the church. The president then issues a letter to the husband and wife inviting them to attend the temple at a specific time and ate and to bring their regular temple recommend with them. In the Salt Lake temple, second anointings are usually administered on Sunday afternoons. In newly constructed temples, they are often performed after the temple has been dedicated but before it opens to the members generally.
The first part of the ceremony—being anointed and ordained a king and priest or queen and priestess—is administered in a temple Holy of Holies or sealing room set apart for that purpose, and is performed by or under the direction of the president of the church. There are usually but not always two witnesses. Only the husband and wife need to dress in their temple robes. The husband leads in a prayer circle, offering signs and praying at an altar. He is then anointed with oil on the top of his head, after which hands are laid on his head and he is ordained a king and a priest unto God to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever. This ordinance gives him the fullness of the priesthood. He is also blessed with the following (as the officiator determines): the power to bind and loose, curse and bless; the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Holy Spirit of Promise; to live as long as desired; to attain godhood; to be sealed to eternal life (if not done previously); to have the power to open the heavens; and other blessings.
Next the wife is anointed with oil on the top of her head, after which hands are laid on her head and she is ordained a queen and a priestess unto her husband, to rule and reign with him in his kingdom forever. She is blessed with the following: to receive all the blessings of the everlasting priesthood; to be an heir to all the blessings sealed upon her husband; to be exalted with her husband; to have ministering angels attend her; to be sealed up to eternal life; to receive the blessings of godhood; to live as long as desired; to have the power of eternal lives (of posterity without end); and other blessings. The specifics of the anointing are recorded by hand in a large leather-bound register.
At the conclusion of this ordinance, the washing of the husband’s feet by his wife is explained to the couple. It is a private ordinance, without witnesses. Its significance is related to the resurrection of the dead, as Heber Kimball noted.86 The couple is told to attend to the ordinance at a date of their choosing in the privacy of their home. At the determined time the husband dedicates the home and the room in which they perform the ordinance, which then follows the pattern of Mary’s anointing Jesus in Matthew 12. What the wife does is in memory of what Mary did: she washes and anoints the body of her husband (similar to the initiatory washings and anointings performed in the temple). The ordinance symbolically prepares the husband for burial, and in this way the wife lays claim upon him in the resurrection.87 Having authority, she also pronounces those blessings she feels appropriate upon her husband. Kimball’s journal entry derives from a speculative belief taught by early Mormons that Jesus married Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus.88 Historical records indicate that the husband and wife perform the second part of the priesthood ordinance from a few days to as much as a few years after the second anointing.89 Only the first part of the second anointing can be performed vicariously for the dead, and only by those who have already received the ordinance.90
Centrally embedded in the evolution of the anointing ritual in early Mormon history is the concept of hierarchy.91 As the ritual evolved, lay members of the church advanced into the inner circle, receiving ordinances and symbols formerly held only by Smith and his immediate associates, while Smith and other leaders then moved on to higher kingdoms, more sure promises, and more secret rituals. Although change in the fundamental framework of the ritual was frozen by Smith’s death in June 1844, theologic perceptions dealing with certain aspects of the endowment—and more particularly the second anointing—underwent further modification.
1. Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973), 3:379-81 (hereafter HC). The original source is Willard Richards’s Pocket Companion, “The Doctrine of Election,” published in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1980), 4-6. A brief discussion of this doctrine can be found in Roy W. Doxey, “Accepted of the Lord: The Doctrine of Making Your Calling and Election Sure,” Ensign 6 (July 1976): 50-53; a more in-depth discussion is Hyrum L. Andrus, Principles of Perfection (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), 331-400.
4. HC, 5:2. There are some problems with the published account. Of interest historically is the omission of two names, William Law and William Marks. Law left the church shortly before Smith’s murder in June 1844; Marks became disaffected and, after briefly affiliating with Sidney Rigdon, James J. Strang, and other dissidents, ultimately joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1859. Heber Kimball referred to the two as “worse than dead” (George D. Smith, ed., An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton [Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1991], 222). A complete list of names is found in the Heber C. Kimball Journal, 1840-45, section entitled “Strange Events, June 1842″ (Stanley B. Kimball, ed., On the Potter’s Wheel: The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1987], 55-56). See also D. Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844,” Brigham Young University Studies 16 (Winter 1976): 214.
7. “The Higher Ordinances,” Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 15 Feb. 1884, 2. George Miller also recalled: “Many of the Apostles and Elders having returned from England Joseph washed and anointed as King and Priests to God, and over the House of Israel, the following named persons, as he said he was commanded of God, viz: James Adams (of Springfield), William Law, William Marks, Willard Richards, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Newel K. Whitney, Hyrum Smith, and myself; and conferred on us Patriarchal Priesthood. This took place on the 5th or 6th of May, 1842″ (see George Miller to James J. Strang, 26 June 1855, in H. W. Mills, “De Tal Palo Tal Astilla,” Annual Publications–Historical Society of Southern California 10 [Los Angeles: McBridge Printing Co., 1917], 7:364).
14. The story of this passage’s reconstruction illustrates how much of the History of the Church was composed. According to Jessee, Smith wrote very little of his diary and history. At the time of his death in 1844, his history was completed only through 1838. Eleven men composed the history by using over twenty different manuscript sources. Key participant George A. Smith recalled that this task “was an immense labor, requiring the deepst thought and the closest application, as there were mostly only two or three words (about half written) to a sentence” (Smith to Wilford Woodruff, 21 Apr. 1856, LDS archives, in Jessee, “The Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” Brigham Young University Studies 11 [Summer 1971]: 472).
15. See S. Kent Brown and C. Wilfred Griggs, “The Messiah and the Manuscripts: What Do Recently Discovered Documents Tell Us About Jesus?” Ensign 14 (Sept. 1974): 68-73; “The 40-Day Ministry,” Ensign 15 (Aug. 1975): 6-11; Robert J. Matthews, “Were the Blessings of the Temple Available to the Saints in Jesus’ Time, or Did They Become Available after His Death?” Ensign 14 (Sep. 1974): 50-51; Hugh Nibley, “The Expanding Gospel,” Brigham Young University Studies 7 (Fall 1965): 3-27; “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1968-May 1970; “Treasures in the Heavens: Some Early Christian Insights into the Organizing of Worlds,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8 (Fall-Winter 1973): 76-98; The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975); “A Strange Thing in the Land,” Ensign, Oct. 1975-Aug. 1977; and “The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham: A Response to E. H. Ashment,” Sunstone 4 (Dec. 1979): 49-51.
16. I am indebted to Edward H. Ashment for this insight. See also Keith E. Norman, “Zeal in Quest of Knowledge,” Sunstone 11 (Mar. 1987): 33-35, a review of Hugh Nibley’s Old Testament and Related Studies (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986).
18. Joseph Smith, Sr., was a member of Ontario Lodge No. 23, Canadaigua, New York, having been initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on 26 December 1817, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on 2 March 1818, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on 7 May 1818 (Mervin B. Hogan, “Freemasonry and Mormon Culture,” Miscellanea 12 , Pt. 10:75-94; Art deHoyos brought this to my attention).
The definitive examination of Mormonism and Freemasonry has yet to be written. The best to date is Michael W. Homer, “‘Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry’: The Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Fall 1994). For a general introduction, see Reed C. Durham, Jr., “Is There No Help For the Widow’s Son?” This was delivered as the presidential address to the Mormon History Association, 20 April 1974. See the version published in Mormon Miscellaneous 1 (Oct. 1975): 11-16. See also Kenneth W. Godfrey, “Joseph Smith and the Masons,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 64 (Spring 1971): 79-90; S. H. Goodwin, Mormonism and Masonry: A Utah Point of View (Salt Lake City: Grand Lodge, F. & A. M. of Utah, 1925); and Additional Studies in Mormonism and Masonry (Salt Lake City: Grand Lodge, F. & A. M. of Utah, 1927). Also Mervin B. Hogan, The Origin and Growth of Utah Masonry and Its Conflict with Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Campus Graphics, 1978); Mormonism and Freemasonry: The Illinois Episode (Salt Lake City: Campus Graphics, 1980); Anthony W. Ivins, The Relationship of “Mormonism” and Freemasonry (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1934); Gavin, Mormonism and Masonry; Allen D. Roberts, “Where Are the All-Seeing Eyes? The Origin, Use and Decline of Early Mormon Symbolism,” Sunstone 4 (May-June 1979): 22-37; John E. Thompson, The Masons, the Mormons and the Morgan Incident (Iowa Research Lodge No. 2 A. & A.M., 1981); and Robin L. Carr, Freemasonry and Nauvoo, 1839-1846 (Bloomington, IL: Masonic Book Club, 1989).
19. Dorothy Ann Lipson, Freemasonry in Federalist Connecticut (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977), 4, 143-440. After 1832 Masons concentrated on social and fraternal activities and, by reaching beyond the limitations of religious, political, and economic creeds, had grown to more than 3.25 million in the United States alone by the early 1980s.
23. Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry: An Account of the Rise and Development of Freemasonry in its Operative, Accepted, and Early Speculative Phases (Manchester, Eng.: Manchester University Press, 1949), 274, 275, 321, 322. Knoop and Jones have produced the most balanced scholarly historical studies of Freemasonry to date. Their publications by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge (the English Masonic research lodge) identify two schools of Masonic history dating from the 1870s: “verified” or institutional history, and “mythical” or philosophical speculations. Their most valuable works include collections of early Masonic catechisms (1943) and pamphlets (1978) as well as institutional histories through the early eighteenth century (1940, 1949). See also A Short History of Freemasonry to 1730 (Manchester, Eng.: Manchester University Press, 1940); The Early Masonic Catechisms (Manchester, Eng.: Manchester University Press, 1943); and Early Masonic Pamphlets (London: Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle, Ltd., 1978).
John Hamill prefers the terms “authentic” and “non-authentic,” rather than “verified” and “mythical.” He explains, “The non- authentic school has four main approaches, which might be categorized as the esoteric, the mystical, the symbolist, and the romantic. All four approaches have two factors in common: a belief that Freemasonry has existed from `time immemorial’ and the apparent inability to distinguish between historical fact and legend” (The Craft. A History of English Freemasonry [Wellingborough: Crucible, 1986], 15-25; again Art deHoyos brought this source to my attention).
Other important careful histories include Robert Freke Gould, A Concise History of Freemasonry (New York City: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., 1904); H. L. Haywood and James E. Craig, A History of Freemasonry (New York: John Day Co., 1927); Bernard E. Jones, Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium, rev. ed. (London: Harrap, Ltd., 1950, 1956); Henry Wilson Coil, Sr., Freemasonry Through Six Centuries, 2 vols. (Richmond, VA: Macoy, 1967); Alex Horne, King Solomon’s Temple in the Masonic Tradition (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, Eng.: Aquarian Press, 1972); Norman MacKenzie, ed., Secret Societies (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967); Arthur Edward Waite, A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and of Cognate Instituted Mysteries: Their Rites, Literature and History, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: David McKay Co., ca. 1923); David Stevenson, The First Freemasons: Scotland’s Early Lodges and Their Members (Aberdeen, 1988); and David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century, 1590-1710 (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
24. Charles McCarthy, “The Antimasonic Party: A Study of Political Antimasonry in the United States, 1827-1840,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902 1: 365-574; William Preston Vaughn, The Anti-Masonic Party in the United States, 1826-1843 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1983).
25. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith 2d ed. (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1973), 65-66; Goodwin, Mormonism and Masonry, 9; Additional Studies in Mormonism and Masonry, 3-29; Thomas F. O’Dea, The Mormons (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 23, 35; Blake Ostler, “The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Spring 1987): 73-76); Walter Franklin Prince, “Psychological Tests for the Authorship of the Book of Mormon,” American Journal of Psychology 28 (July 1917): 373-95. The best study to date is Dan Vogel, “Mormonism’s `Anti-Masonick Bible,’” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 9 (1989): 17-30.
28. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 131; Grant Underwood, “The Earliest Reference Guides to the Book of Mormon: Windows into the Past,” Journal of Mormon History 12 (1985): 69-89.
32. Compare Heber C. Kimball’s observation, 2 August 1857: “You have received your endowments. What is it for? To learn you to hold your tongues” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [Liverpool: Latter-day Saints' Booksellers Depot, 1854-86], 5:133 [hereafter JD]), with Brigham Young’s comment in 1860: “[T]he mane part of Masonry is to keep a secret” (in Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols. [Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983], 5:418). A classic discussion on the sociology of secrecy and secret societies is by Georg Simmel in Kurt H. Wolff, trans. and ed., The Sociology of Georg Simmel (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1950), 330-76.
35. Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 12. Kimball’s daughter, Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, later reminisced: “I remember once when but a young girl, of getting a glimpse of the outside of the Morgan’s book, exposing Masonry, but which my father always kept locked up.”
36. Godfrey, “Joseph Smith and the Masons,” 81-82; Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), 99; James J. Tyler, “John Cook Bennett, Colorful Freemason of the Early Nineteenth Century,” reprinted from the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Ohio (n.p., 1947), 8.
43. Smith’s accelerated advancement came at the hand of Abraham Jonas, Grandmaster of the Illinois Lodge. Given that Jonas was running for political office, it is possible that he thought his action would secure him the Mormon vote.
45. Ibid., 30 Mar. 1842, italics added. Freemasons are enjoined to study their Book of Constitutions which contain fundamental Masonic principles; every man considering becoming a Mason is called a “candidate” and must pass a character examination before being approved for initiation; new initiates progress in Masonry through a system of ceremonial degrees; and several officers in a lodge have different titles employing the word “Priest.” See R. W. Jeremy L. Cross, The True Masonic Chart, or Hieroglyphic Monitor; Containing All the Emblems Explained in the Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason, etc. (New Haven, CT: Jeremy L. Cross, 1824), 7, 15-19, 63, 65, 157; William Morgan, Freemasonry Exposed (1827; reprint ed., Chicago: Ezra Book Publications, Inc., n.d.), 16-18.
49. Ehat and Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 119-20, emphasis added; D&C 129:4-9. Before passing each degree, every Masonic candidate is tested in his knowledge of special signs and words by the presiding lodge officer. See Cross, The True Masonic Chart, 97; Morgan, Freemasonry Exposed, 18-27, 49-61, 70-89.
52. Catherine Lewis, Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons, etc. (Lynn, MA: the Author, 1848), 9-10; see also, Warsaw Signal, 15 Apr. 1846, 2; Increase McGee Van Dusen and Maria Van Dusen, The Mormon Endowment; A Secret Drama, or Conspiracy, in the Nauvoo-Temple, in 1846 (Syracuse, NY: N. M. D. Lathrop, 1847), 6, 9.
53. David Bernard, Light on Masonry: A Collection of All the Most Important Documents on the Subject of Speculative Free Masonry, etc. (Utica, NY: William Williams, 1829), 116-17; Jabez Richardson, Richardson’s Monitor of Free-Masonry; Being a Practical Guide to the Ceremonies in All the Degrees Conferred in Masonic Lodges, Chapters, Encampments, etc. (1860; reprint ed., Chicago: Ezra Cook, 1975), 61, 66.
57. “Manuscript History of Brigham Young,” 13 Nov. 1858, 1085, LDS archives; see also Stanley B. Kimball, “Heber C. Kimball and Family, The Nauvoo Years,” Brigham Young University Studies 15 (Summer 1975): 458.
63. Statement of the First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and John Henry Smith), 15 Oct. 1911, in Oakland Tribune, 15 Oct. 1911, and in Deseret News, 4 Nov. 1911; see also James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), 4:250.
64. Conference Report of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, Apr. 1913), 126; Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Dec. 1919, in S. H. Goodwin, Mormonism and Masonry, 49-50.
68. After the Wilford Woodruff Manifesto in 1890, association of celestial marriage with polygamy was discouraged. Mormons now perceive celestial marriage and plural marriage as separate concepts. Andrew F. Ehat, “Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982, 59-62, maintained that Smith never taught plural marriage to the Quorum of the Anointed, but Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), shows that this quorum was the nucleus for polygamy and that plural wives were anointed and sealed.
69. HC, 5:2, 139-40, 31 Aug. 1842 (italics added). Since this citation is not in the regular Nauvoo Relief Society minutes or in the Manuscript History of the Church, it probably represents an anachronistic reinterpretation of Joseph Smith’s original comments.
Young’s remarks on kings and priests originated in the endowment ritual. As Heber C. Kimball explained to a Nauvoo temple audience on 21 December 1845, “You have been anointed to be kings and priests, but you have not been ordained to it yet, and you have got to get it by being faithful” (Smith, An Intimate Chronicle, 227). This concept was mentioned again by George Q. Cannon in 1883: “in the washing that takes place in the first endowment, they are washed that they might become clean from the blood of this generation…in the same way they are ordained to be Kings and Priests–that ordinance does not make them…Kings and Priests. If they fully received of another endowment [i.e., the second anointing], a fulness of that power, and the promises are fulfilled in the bestowal of the power upon them” (Salt Lake School of the Prophets Minute Book, 2 Aug. 1883, 14, LDS archives). In 1941 Apostle David O. McKay explained that the “first anointing” is conferred in the initiatory ordinances of the endowment where “one…is anointed to become a king and a priest of the Most High; a queen and priestess in the realms of God….We are anointed that we may become such” (“The Temple Ceremony,” address at the Salt Lake Temple Annex, 25 Sept. 1941, LDS archives, in Joseph C. Muren, comp., The Temple and Its Significance, rev. ed. [Ogden, UT: Temple Publications, 1974]).
In terms of the Nauvoo endowment prior to Smith’s death, it may be that the “first anointing” was an actual, not promissory, ordination, for Heber Kimball’s own diary recollection of the 4 May 1842 ceremony was that he was “ordained a Preast.” Notably the Kirtland endowment actually pronounced recipients “clean from the blood of this generation”; yet Kimball’s 21 December 1845 diary also records him telling the same temple audience cited above of more blessings to come “if you are faithful and keep your tongue in your mouth.” Apparently the concept of purification was also undergoing development and the actual form of this ceremony changed as Smith developed a fuller understanding of the priesthood ordinances and their relationship to the Mormon concept of godhood.
71. Although this is the current interpretation of this teaching, some have argued that Smith was merely redescribing the trilogistic concept of three general degrees of glory as outlined in D&C 76. In other words the “highest degree” spoken of in D&C 131:2 would be synonymous with “celestial kingdom,” while the “celestial glory” in D&C 131:1 would only be referring to the “resurrection of the just” described by D&C 76.
72. An early letter published by W. W. Phelps, Messenger & Advocate 9 (June 1835): 130, suggests that Smith may have taught a variation of this doctrine eight years prior to D&C 131: “We shall by and bye learn that…we may prepare ouselves for a kingdom of glory; become archangels, even the sons of God where the man is neither without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.”
73. Although the doctrine and limited practice of plural marriage had been extant for several years prior to the 12 July 1843 dictation of D&C 132, the recording of this important revelation introduced several crucial ideas which are pivotal in understanding the theology surrounding the second anointing ritual. See Robert J. Woodford, “The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1974, 3:1731-61; and Danel Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage before the Death of Joseph Smith,” M.A. thesis, Purdue University, 1975.
77. Joseph Smith Diary, 28 May 1843, in Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1987), 381.
79. Joseph Smith Diary, 28 Sept. 1843, in Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, 416. Beurach Ale was a scriptural “code” designation for Joseph Smith; see D&C 103:21 (1971 ed.), which spells it Baurak.
81. Table 1 is based on independent research by Lisle G. Brown, especially with respect to the table’s design, Andrew F. Ehat, whose “Ehat Endowment Data Summary,” cited in his “Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances,” 98-100, provides most of the dating, and my own research. The listing contains only names and dates for which documentation is fairly certain. Some of the names included are documented as having received one or more of these ordinances, but no precise date has been located.
83. Wilford Woodruff Journal, 10 Mar. 1844, in Kenney, 2:361-62.
85. Prior to receiving the second anointing a man receives in the temple the ordinance of the washing of the feet under the direction of the church president. This cleanses the man from the blood and sins of his generation, and should not be confused with the last ordinance of the second anointing (discussed below) when the man’s feet are washed by his wife.
87. Compare the patriarchal blessing Hyrum Smith gave John Taylor on 23 July 1843, that “shall be sealed upon your head in the day that you shall be anointed & your body prepared for its buriel” (Patriarchal Blessing Book, 3:144, LDS archives). For biblical accounts of Jesus Christ’s anointing for his burial, see Matthew 26:6-12, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8.
88. See Ogden Kraut, Jesus Was Married (n.p., 1969) for a compilation of early LDS citations on this belief. A more scholarly analysis of this question is William E. Phipps, Was Jesus Married? (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), and William E. Phipps, “The Case for a Married Jesus,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 (Winter 1972): 44- 49.
89. See Phineas Richards Journal, 22 Jan., 1 Feb. 1846, LDS archives; Robert McQuarrie Journal, 13 Nov. 1890, 1 June 1894, LDS archives; and Sylvester Q. Cannon Journal, 30 Sept. and 28 Oct. 1904, LDS archives. Wasatch Stake president William H. Smart’s account of his and his wife’s second anointing illustrates the two-part ceremony:
“31 May 1901: Went to Temple this morning presenting recommend which Pres. Snow gave me about 3 months ago. We had not come before for our second anointing as the baby was young, and because we desired to become settled in our new home….Bp John R Winder annointed us and Elder Madsen instructed us. These are the greatest blessings that are bestowed upon man in the flesh. We were both melted in tears and I felt the patriarchal spirit of pure affection more than I have done before. The witnesses to the annointing were John R. Winder [who] annointed. Adolph Madsen assisted John Nicholson Recorder….
“21 June 1901 [at home]: This evening from about 9-30 to 12 O.C. my wife and I attended to the second part of the ordinance of second anointings. We besides the ordinance itself sang “We thank thee O God for a prophet,” conversed concerning our duties to each other and children, read from John XII: 1-8 verses, read the Rev. on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, Section 132. We dedicated [the] room for the purpose of this meeting. Closed by singing: “Oh my father thou that dwellest.” Anna was mouth in preliminary prayer, I gave the dedicatory prayer and the benediction. The spirit of the Lord was with us and we felt nearer together than usual: were much encouraged in pressing onward in an endeavor to succeed in life. We fasted during the day and broke our fast together a little after 12 O.C.” (William H. Smart Diary, 31 May, 21 June 1901, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah).
91. Although it oversimplifies this complex developmental process, Andrew Ehat has attempted to show how Smith’s additions to the Kirtland endowment in Nauvoo did not disrupt the ultimate order of the ceremony. His listing of temple ordinances, based on the History of the Church, is intended to illustrate this point. Items first revealed in Nauvoo are italicized, while those found in both the Kirtland and Nauvoo ceremonies are not: (1) Washing of the body with water and perfumed alcohol (set wording); (2) Sealing the washing; (3) Anointing the body with oil; (4) Sealing the anointing (set wording); (5) Aaronic portion of the endowment; (6) Melchizedek portion of the endowment; (7) Marriage for time and eternity; (8) Anointing with oil; and (9) Washing of feet (cited in Ehat and Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 140-41n6, and in his “Introduction of Temple Ordinances,” 169).